Session the 20th: On Good and Evil

I had visions
I was in them
I was looking into the mirror
To see a little bit clearer
The rottenness and evil in me

— Harvey Danger, “Flagpole Sita”

Best get this out of the way first: my bartender believes I’m not evil. Despite everything I’ve told him under the more lax interpretations of doctor-patient confidentiality.

If you’ve been on my blog before, you may know my general assertion that I am evil. Very often in an “eviler than thou” sense, which at least means I have morals, if not the spiritual fiber to actually follow through on them. Oh, I’ll help people out and try my best to be good, but when it comes down to it, I’m rotten to the core.

Apparently this isn’t really true, and I don’t know what to make of that.

Frankly, it’s easier to think of myself as evil than attempt to figure out the moral patchwork quilt that became my life post-haste during the Years of Zorn and Tharn.

But I suppose, as an exercise, let’s consider where I got my morals. Which is: from my father.

Yes, the man who violated just about every moral on the books cross-culture is the man who laid down the strictest ideals. But basically they boil down to:

Never, ever lie.

No exceptions.

No excuses.

If you lie—including the lies of omission—you are evil.

You should die before you’d lie.

A man can harbor a thousand sins, but a lie is the worst of all.

That said, I suppose my father took refuge in this.

And he believed I lied constantly. He’d tell me this even if I were telling the truth—even if, objectively speaking, there was no interpretation of my words as being other than true.

The result after years of this is: when I tell an objective truth, I’m lying and am evil. When I tell a subjective truth, I’m lying and eviler. When I’m lying, I am lying and evilest of all.

Really, in a system like that… well, it’s pretty much designed to crush all of your ego and attempts at individuality or escape.

But it did not crush me. And I did escape. And I did it through lying (but everything I do is a lie, so…).

Which makes me evilest of all.

My bartender asked me if I would apply this moral system to someone who had a similar situation and had to escape in much the same way.

I said, no, I couldn’t! I wouldn’t think of them as evil. And I believe that, inasmuch as it’s possible for me to believe anything I say or think.

And then my bartender asked why this rule only applied to me.

Well. He’s got me there. Except that everything I think of is a lie anyways.

Um. I can’t go on at this point. Anything else I tell will be in separate posts, if ever.

And yes. I could see a writer going wild with a character who has complexes similar to mine.

Hm. At least it helped to write that all down. I can tease apart my circular logic, if the term “logic” can be applied to any of it.

But… I do tend to circumvent thinking about any of this by simply assuming I’m evil and continuing to attempt to do good and thus fuck with God/the gods/the Universe. It hurts to think about any of this.

So here it is for future reference.

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9 thoughts on “Session the 20th: On Good and Evil

  1. Hmm. Maybe it might help to continue to do the exercise he set out – applying your rule for a situation against a fictional someone else in the same shoes and see if you would think of them as evil or awful.

    I also wonder about “everything I think of is a lie”. If truth is a lie, what is truth? Without dark, there is no light; is there a lie without a truth?

    Somehow, “I’m evil and continuing to attempt to do good” makes me think of the little demoness Fwoosh in Sinfest. By definition, one might say she’s evil because she is a demoness, but by her actions, she is certainly good. You’re not evil either, despite your father’s attempts to make you believe it.

  2. I wouldn’t take any moral measure your dad dished out. He had to have a worldview that allowed him to threaten your existence even though you were a separate human being and also his own child – that’s right up there with the worst possible sins in any human system of morals. So he’s almost an inverse of standards for morality.

    Also your actual affect on the world is at worst neutral, on an objective level – nothing like evil. If you’re going to measure on an objective utilitarian level.

    On an emotional level…there’s this whole attachment parenting theory about how being responsive and loving to children in the first few years of life instills a core security – a belief in their own worth, capability, and safety – that allows for good independent moral and practical decisionmaking later in life. I wonder if this reparenting of yourself you’re doing, with the stuffed animals and the good foods and providing for your own safety, learning, and play space, will eventually give you the underlying assumptions (that you are inherently good, worthy, and capable) that they deprived you of.

  3. Cori,

    It’ll probably help to keep thinking of that. It hurts to think about all this, of course, but it’s probably the way to salvation, sort of thing. Or sanity. Either one.

    Thank you for pointing me to Sinfest ^.^ I love it now.

    Rosa,

    I wonder if my father tried to force me to live to impossibly high standards because he felt he failed his. Not that this makes any sense…

    My actual affect on the world is neutral even if I’m evil or good; I’m just me, and I haven’t tried to be grand at either. ^.^

    Hum, reparenting is a good term! Probably I’ll feel better about myself one day. Or at least more sure of myself…

  4. Forcing you to make up for his failures does make a sort of sense, as does making you believe there’s something intrinsically wrong about you.

    Not rational sense, but humans aren’t very rational.

  5. This way of thinking about good and evil, lies and truth seems to me an illogical destructive sort of rationalization, attached to some very bad feelings. It’s pretending to be a series of rational propositions. You have nailed them down here. But really, I think you have exposed the failure of your personal catch-22 to achieve rationality.

    We could interrogate your text for its truthiness, our superior brains toying with various general solutions to these ancient problems, but… surely there is more fun to be had, somewhere. Release the cows!

    Bad feeling is bad. Sad frowny face here.

  6. Rosa,

    And my father less rational than most….

    jae leslie,

    Cows have been released and hugged intensely. ^.^

  7. You’re not evil.

    I could continue. “You’re not evil because…” this or that or the other. Not gonna, though. There is no ‘because’. You. Are. Not. Evil.

    START
    PRINT (YOU == EVIL)
    END
    > 0

    There.

  8. (not intended as evangelizing; the guy did say some good things independent of any spiritual overtones)

    Agreeing with the bartender: “and the second commandment is this: Love your Neighbour as Yourself”, said a well known figure. If you choose to live according to that guy’s ideas, “commandment” is a pretty strong word. If you don’t, it’s still a pretty useful guide to being a good person.

    A less well known figure (my minister) said “by the way, that means, by definition, ‘Love yourself as your neighbour’.” *My* outlook on life was much better after that lightbulb moment; yours may be too. If you wouldn’t hold anyone else to the same standard you hold yourself to, then the standards you’re holding the world to are probably closer to right than the standards you’re holding yourself to.

    And nothing you have said anywhere I can read leads me to believe you are evil, so my guess is also that the bartender’s got it right…

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